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14 - Human resources in knowledge management: a case study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2018

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Summary

The purpose of this chapter is to present a model case report, the final product of a qualitative research study. This report, a fabrication which draws upon several studies including some of our own, exemplifies one method for organizing such a report. It follows conventional qualitative research practice in protecting the privacy and identity of research respondents and of the research setting. To this end, informants’ names and other details have been modified.

Introduction

There has been a great deal written about knowledge management over the past few years. Much of this has focused either on technical aspects of knowledge management, such as the information systems involved, or upon the strategies adopted. Current issues of particular concern in the field include the application of complexity and chaos theory to help increase our understanding of the processes involved in knowledge management.

Rather less has been written about management of the key personnel involved, the knowledge managers themselves – in particular, in the area of human resources (HR) – and the cultural contexts within which they operate. Yet, as Scarbrough has shown, implementation of a knowledge management programme may fail if networks of social relationships are not adequately recognized. Indeed, a Dutch study asked a similar question to that posed in this study: ‘What types of activities are perceived by professionals working in human resource development (HRD) offices to be relevant to good knowledge management within their own office?’ The present study differs from that in examining knowledge management, not in an HRD office but in a knowledge management consultancy firm, and in adopting a qualitative rather than largely quantitative approach.

One of the aims of this case study was to provide an opportunity to explore all of these issues in a real-life situation.

Method

This study was undertaken as part of the author's PhD in knowledge management. It involved a longitudinal, ethnographic case study carried out within a knowledge management firm. To preserve confidentiality, that business is referred to as Knowledge Management Partners (KMP) in this report.

Type
Chapter
Information
Qualitative Research for the Information Professional
A practical handbook
, pp. 247 - 256
Publisher: Facet
Print publication year: 2004

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